Fires, floods, flying insects: 10 recent climate-related disasters

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Paris (AFP)

From a summer of record fires and floods, to abnormal frosts and locust plagues, experts say man-made climate change is wreaking havoc on global weather.

Here are some of the most devastating weather disasters of the past two years:

– Mediterranean on fire –

Greece’s worst heat wave in decades fueled deadly forest fires that burned nearly 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres) this year in what the prime minister called “the biggest environmental disaster for decades”.

The summer fires killed around 80 people in Algeria and Turkey, while Italy and Spain were also ravaged by uncontrolled fires.

Scientists say the Mediterranean rim is a climate change “hot spot” with the worst to come.

– Canada “thermal dome” –

At the end of June, a hot air “heat dome” caused sustained scorching temperatures across much of western Canada and the northwestern United States.

Residents of the town of Lytton, B.C. saw the thermometer rise on June 30 to 49.6 degrees Celsius (121 degrees Fahrenheit), a national record. A few days later, the city was largely destroyed by a forest fire.

The extreme heat was “virtually impossible” without man-made climate change, the World Weather Attribution (WWA) science consortium said.

– European cities swept away –

The worst floods in living memory in Germany killed 165 people in July after heavy rains hit the country as well as Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria and Belgium, where another 31 people are dead.

Worst flood in living memory hit Germany in July, killing 165 people CHRISTOF STACHE AFP / File

WWA has said that global warming has increased the likelihood of two-day extreme rainfall behind flooding by about 20 percent.

For every degree that the Earth warms, the atmosphere can hold about seven percent more moisture, scientists say.

– Drowning in the metro in China –

The July floods in China killed more than 300 people when the central city of Zhengzhou was inundated by a year of rain in just three days, trapping people in road tunnels and subway systems as the waters rose, with some drownings.

– Fleeing the floods in Australia –

In March 2021, torrential rains hit eastern Australia, forcing thousands to flee the worst flooding in decades – just one year after the region suffered extreme drought and bushfires .

Days of relentless rain have brought rivers in Australia’s most populous state to their highest level in three decades.

Scientists have warned that Australia can expect more frequent and extreme weather events due to climate change.

– Devastating frosts in France –

This spring, a late frost ravaged French vineyards when falling temperatures wiped out nearly a third of the country’s harvest, causing up to two billion euros ($ 2.3 billion) in damage.

This spring saw a late frost ravage French vineyards and orchards
This spring saw a late frost ravage French vineyards and orchards Frédéric FLORIN AFP / File

WWA analysis said climate change has made the historic cold snap – which devastated most wine regions in France – about 70% more likely.

– The path of destruction of hurricane Ida –

In late August, Hurricane Ida caused a series of death and destruction in Louisiana across the northeastern United States, killing more than 100 and causing approximately $ 100 billion in damage.

According to the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, four of the six costliest hurricanes in the United States, including Ida, have all occurred in the past five years.

– Locust invasion in East Africa … –

Experts blame extreme climate-related weather – including extreme rainfall – of hatching billions of locusts that invaded East Africa in January 2020, threatening the region with a food crisis.

Billions of locusts invaded East Africa in early 2020, threatening the vast region with a food crisis
Billions of locusts invaded East Africa in early 2020, threatening the vast region with a food crisis Yasuyoshi CHIBA AFP / File

Already in the grip of successive droughts and deadly floods, dense clouds of insects have spread from Ethiopia and Somalia to Kenya.

– … preceded by deadly floods –

The heavy downpours of October 2019 displaced tens of thousands of people in Somalia, submerged entire towns in South Sudan and killed dozens in flash floods and landslides in Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

A powerful climatic phenomenon in the Indian Ocean stronger than anything seen in years has triggered destructive rains and flooding across East Africa.

– The 500-year drought worsens –

The American West continues to sink deeper into the most severe “mega-drought” in the region in at least 500 years.

Worsened by global warming, the drought wave could continue for decades, according to a study in the journal Science.

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